Everyday ideas

Ideas and tips for daily life
with relapsing MS

Jacqueline E., with her family
MS LifeLines Ambassador,
living with relapsing MS

Eating right

There is not a special diet plan for those living with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS). But maintaining a healthy diet is a good idea for anyone. Of course, changing eating habits can be difficult, so try setting small, easily attainable goals. Try a new recipe once a month. Cut out dessert once or twice a week. You get the idea. Just make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any diet or nutritional program.

Strategies for managing your diet
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Food tips your body would love

1. Start slow

When changing your diet, it’s best to start slow. Diet plans that involve dramatic changes are harder to start and maintain.

2. Plan ahead

Eating a healthy snack before going to a party or other social events can help curb your appetite and limit indulging in more high-calorie foods.

3. Make low-fat substitutions

Choose fresh fruit or yogurt instead of ice cream, turkey instead of ham for a sandwich, and precut veggies or pretzels instead of potato chips.

4. Stay hydrated

Water helps maintain a normal body temperature. For some people, a rise in body temperature may temporarily exacerbate symptoms or lead to fatigue.

5. Avoid foods high in saturated fats, sugar and other sweeteners,

including refined “white” grains. They may offer empty calories that fill you up but don’t offer the nutritional value your body needs.

6. Control your portions

It takes 20 minutes before you start feeling full, so try taking smaller portions at first and eating slower.

7. Don’t forget the fiber

Eat fiber-rich foods that help you feel full, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

8. Understand the connection
between eating and emotions

For instance, sometimes people eat too much or too little when stressed. If you notice changes in your eating habits related to your mood, talk to your doctor.

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Exercise may help with building strength and improving your mood. If you’re living with MS, you may be concerned about having enough energy, stamina, or coordination to exercise. Fortunately, there are many different ways to get exercise for a variety of fitness levels and physical abilities.

Six activities to get you started
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Things like walking to the bus or performing household chores count as exercise, too. Getting in as little as 30 minutes a day can help you enjoy the benefits of exercise. It may be challenging at times, but stick with it. Before starting an exercise regimen, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider.

Exercise may help manage MS symptoms:

  • Improving bowel and bladder function
  • Reducing depression
  • Improving posture and balance

There are many ways to get regular physical activity. Here are a few examples:

Aerobic exercise

This includes any activity that strengthens your heart and lungs, including brisk walking, biking, and running.


You get a low-impact aerobic workout, as well as the benefits of being in water. The water can help keep your body cool and comfortable, and buoyancy may help muscles to attain a greater range of motion.


Suitable for a variety of fitness levels, yoga can help build strength, endurance, and flexibility.


The focus here is on correct body alignment, coordination, and muscle tone. Exercises are non-impact, non-weight–bearing activities, and are often performed lying down.

Tai Chi

A gentle physical exercise, tai chi involves over 100 postures and movements. Suitable for various fitness levels, it can be performed sitting or standing.

Balance exercises

Using exercise balls, balance boards, and therapeutic balls can all help improve stability. A physical therapist or other healthcare providers should guide you in these exercises.

Staying Fit: Yoga and Val

Valerie V., an MS LifeLines Ambassador, has found that practicing yoga is a great way for her to relax and stay fit.

Watch her story

Always exercise safely. Try to warm up your body before and cool down after. Remember to “listen to your body.” If you start to hurt or feel sick, stop and take a break. And with MS, it’s important to keep cool. Some people may notice that some MS symptoms reappear or become worse when their body heat rises. Stay out of excessive direct sunlight, stay hydrated, and consider swimming (it’s a great way to stay fit and cool). Your healthcare provider may have some more tips to help you deal with the heat.

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Stress is a normal part of life. However, the uncertainty that living with MS brings can add more. Reducing stress wherever you can may make it easier to manage changes in your life and health.

Eight stress-busting ideas
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Eight stress-busting ideas:

  1. Keep it simple
    Don’t strive for perfection. The house doesn’t have to be
    spotless. The laundry can wait.
  2. Plan ahead
    Preparing for stressful situations can take some of the worry away. For example, if you have a meeting with your boss, try to practice or role-play your conversation at home. Or if a doctor’s appointment is coming up, it may help to reduce stress by writing down your questions and concerns in advance.
  3. Get unpleasant tasks out of the way first
    This way, you can focus on more enjoyable things throughout the rest of your day.
  4. Eliminate the morning rush
    Get up a few minutes earlier, and prepare what you can the night before. Don’t complicate the morning with tasks that can be done at other times of the day when you may have more time.
  5. Ask for help
    If you feel overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities, let your family and friends pitch in.
  6. Exercise
    Regular exercise may have a positive impact on your mental health. Talk to your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.
  7. Turn negative thoughts into positive ones
    For example, instead of thinking “I can’t do it,” try thinking: “I’ll try approaching this differently.” With practice, you can help turn criticism into motivation.
  8. Take time for you
    Relieving stress doesn’t have to be a big production. Read a book, watch a favorite TV show, or have a family dinner. As long as it’s an activity that makes you feel good, it may help.

Keeping a Sense of Humor

MS LifeLines Ambassador Jennifer O. talks about how she keeps her perspective and keeps smiling.

Watch her story

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Family and friends

Your adult family and friends might be a great resource in helping you deal with your MS. By talking openly and honestly, you may help them learn how they can support you best.

Your partner | Your friends
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Six things close family and friends can help with:

  1. Offering emotional support you can count on.
  2. Making decisions for medical, financial, and other issues.
  3. Everyday household chores, responsibilities, and other activities.
  4. Taking you to medical appointments and helping you communicate with your doctor.
  5. Keeping records of your symptoms, medications, and questions.
  6. Keeping track of your treatment schedule, helping you perform injections, and rotating injection sites.
Thank a care partner on Facebook

You’ll find lots of great ideas on our Facebook page. Check it out to see what people are saying.

Talking to your partner

If you are married or in a committed relationship, MS will probably play a role in your relationship in some way. It can bring not only unexpected challenges, but also surprising rewards. Working together to overcome obstacles can bring you closer together. But it does require shared commitment and effort.

As you take on your MS together, don’t forget to set aside some couple time, keep the lines of communication open, and learn to ask for help.

Talking to your friends

Disclosing your MS to others is a personal decision. Whether you decide to tell others about your MS is up to you. There is no right or wrong way to talk about it. Tailor information as you see fit to the individual and the situation. Over time, you’ll be able to gauge the reactions of different friends to determine if, when, and how much you want to disclose.

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If you’re a parent or family member living with MS, you may have some concerns about talking to kids about your condition. You might wonder how much you should tell them, or if telling them about your MS will confuse or scare them. It's natural to want to protect them, but when it comes to talking to kids, honesty may be the best policy.

Talking to your kids
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Talking to your kids

Children are bound to have lots of questions about MS. What is MS? Can I catch MS from you? How will MS affect me? Try to answer truthfully in an age-appropriate way.

You may also want to reassure the kids that you can't “catch MS.” It's not like a cold. If children want to know how MS will affect them and your family, be honest. MS is different for every person; although you can't tell kids exactly what to expect, you can still prepare them for possibilities.

Try to remember that kids are adaptable. The key is open communication. As long as they have the facts and feel reassured, most children can adjust to just about anything.

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Although men make up only about one third of the relapsing MS population, MS can often hit them harder than it does women. How men deal with MS can be different, too.

Tips for men
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MS LifeLines Ambassador Ric S. helps run an MS support group for men near his home in California. While he believes that coed support groups can be very beneficial, he says that sometimes spending time with just the guys can offer unique benefits. “If anything, I think it’s a comfort thing for the guys who come. Sometimes you just need to take a breath,” he says.

Dr Rick Munschauer, a neurologist with EMD Serono, agrees that if a man is more comfortable speaking his mind with the guys, that’s great. The important thing is to communicate. Some men may feel isolated if they’re no longer able to do their usual activities, like playing sports. Self-esteem can also take a hit if MS affects employment status. He says, “Although MS is less common in men than in women, it tends to be more aggressive.” So this is not a time to tough it out.

“Men tend to minimize their symptoms, which can make it harder for the physician to assess what’s going on,” adds Dr Munschauer. So be open and direct with your healthcare provider about the full range of ways MS impacts your life—and tell your family, too. “A lot of times, I’ll hear from a spouse, ‘I just don’t know what’s going on with him.’ I think men have to learn to be more expressive about the impact MS has on their life.” Fortunately, there are a lot of people like Ric who are ready to listen.

Tips for men:

  1. Talk about what you’re feeling! Don’t try to be a tough guy
  2. Share what you’re going through with your healthcare provider and your family
  3. Look for a local men’s MS support group if you feel like talking to guys who can relate

Dr Munschauer is Vice President for US Medical Affairs for Neurology at EMD Serono, Inc. He spent 25 years actively caring for MS patients before joining EMD Serono.

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Work life

Many people with MS continue to work long after they are diagnosed. You have to figure out what's best for you, including whether or not to disclose your condition at work. The National MS Society website provides some information about disclosure in the workplace. You may also want to seek legal guidance before you disclose.

Fatigue tips | Cognitive considerations
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Two factors that may influence your decision are fatigue, the feeling of tiredness, and cognitive issues, which are difficulties thinking clearly. Some options for dealing with these symptoms can be found on our symptom page. Here are some overall tips for addressing both.

Tips if you’re feeling tired:

  1. Take a break!
    If you’re tired or low on energy, go for a short walk, or simply spend a few minutes relaxing. It can help you return to work refreshed and ready to get back to the task at hand.
  2. Take it easy
    If possible, avoid stairs, heavy lifting, and other strenuous activities. When you can, try to do tasks sitting down.
  3. Get the tough stuff out of the way early
    Do your most demanding work in the early part of the day or when you’re likely to have more energy.

Smart thinking tips:

  1. Plan ahead
    Use a daily planner or mobile device to help keep track of tasks and responsibilities.
  2. Stay organized
    Keep your home or office organized to help avoid misplacing items.
  3. Don’t rush
    Take your time to think through things beforehand to reduce errors and frustration.

MS Symptom Checklist

Keep track of any symptoms you are seeing between doctor appointments. Download now.

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MS LifeLines Ambassadors are sponsored by EMD Serono, Inc.


Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS.

Important Safety Information

Before beginning treatment, you should discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with Rebif with your healthcare provider.

Rebif can cause serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below while taking Rebif.

  • Behavioral health problems, including depression and suicidal thoughts. You may have mood problems including depression (feeling hopeless or feeling bad about yourself), and thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide
  • Liver problems or worsening of liver problems, including liver failure. Symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, dark colored urine and pale stools, yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eye, bleeding more easily than normal, confusion, and sleepiness. During your treatment with Rebif you will need to see your healthcare provider regularly and have regular blood tests to check for side effects
  • Serious allergic and skin reactions. Symptoms may include itching, swelling of your face, eyes, lips, tongue or throat, trouble breathing, anxiousness, feeling faint, skin rash, hives, sores in your mouth, or skin blisters and peels
  • Injection site problems. Symptoms at the injection site may include redness, pain, swelling, color changes (blue or black), and drainage of fluid
  • Blood problems. Rebif can affect your bone marrow and cause low red and white blood cell and platelet counts. In some people, these blood cell counts may fall to dangerously low levels. If your blood cell counts become very low, you can get infections and problems with bleeding and bruising. Your healthcare provider may ask you to have regular blood tests to check for blood problems
  • Seizures. Some people have had seizures while taking Rebif

Rebif will not cure your MS but may decrease the number of flare-ups of the disease and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS.

Do not take Rebif if you are allergic to interferon beta, human albumin, or any of the ingredients in Rebif.

Before you take Rebif, tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any of the following conditions:

  • mental illness, including depression and suicidal behavior
  • liver problems, bleeding problems or blood clots, low blood cell counts, seizures (epilepsy), or thyroid problems
  • you drink alcohol
  • you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Rebif will harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with Rebif
  • you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Rebif passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will use Rebif or breastfeed. You should not do both

Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.

The most common side effects of Rebif include:

  • flu-like symptoms. You may have flu-like symptoms when you first start taking Rebif. You may be able to manage these flu-like symptoms by taking over-the-counter pain and fever reducers. For many people, these symptoms lessen or go away over time. Symptoms may include muscle aches, fever, tiredness, and chills
  • stomach pain
  • change in liver blood tests

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Rebif. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Refer to the Instructions for Use that comes with the Rebif® Rebidose® (interferon beta-1a) autoinjector.

This information is not intended to replace discussions with your doctor. For additional information about Rebif, please consult the Prescribing Information and Medication Guide and talk to your doctor. You can also visit rebif.com or call, toll-free, 1-877-447-3243. Rebif is available by prescription only.

Rebif, Rebif Rebidose, Rebiject II, MS LifeLines, and the Rebif logo are registered trademarks of EMD Serono, Inc. or its affiliates.

Brought to you by EMD Serono, Inc., the marketer of Rebif in the US.

This information is intended only for residents of the United States.